HOLLAND – Finishing 6-4, overall, 5-2 in the Suburban One League (SOL) Continental Conference, Council Rock South posted a remarkable season last year. Much of their success can be attributed to one Vince Alimenti, who led the Golden Hawks back into winning form, rushing for 2,774 yards on 309 carries, a 9.0-yards-per carry average. South’s first 2,000 yard rusher in eight seasons, Alimenti reached the end zone 38 times in 2014.
The Hawks take the field for the first time in five campaigns however, without the 6-1, 200-pound fullback.
“You never replace a guy like Vince – he was just a super kid,” said CR South head coach Vince Bedesem. “Last year, he just put the team on his shoulders and did a tremendous job keeping us afloat.”
Nevertheless, time marches on with Alimenti taking his game to Cal-UPa. and current senior Brendan Patterson taking up where Vince left off.
“Brendan does have great breakaway ability from both the fullback and the halfback positions,” said Bedesem. “He has this innate ability, especially with the cutback play. He has great vision and runs downhill.”
Bedesem shrugs off any comparisons between Patterson and Alimenti.
“Brendan has his own style of running so we don’t compare him to Vince.”
“He’s his own player at this point in time and we love it.”
Patterson leads a large group of seniors back onto the field for the Hawks including center Joe Carter, 6-4, 290-pound right guard John Anderson, tackles Keith Rieser and Zach Blickley. The only junior on the O-line is 5-10, 275-pound Andrew Short.
Leading South’s triple-option offense is senior Shaun Stackhouse, who stepped into the role at the start of last season. For receiving targets, Stackhouse has seniors Kyle Hickey and John Smyth, who will line up in the slot.
“We’re a traditional read-option offense and it’s an awful lot of responsibility,” said Bedesem. “Shaun does a great job with it.”
Defensively, the Hawks return with a 3-3-5 scheme which it was utilizing by the end of last season. Up front, 6-2, 275-pound senior nose-guard Georgio Koulouris is flanked by ends Alex Benner (6-5, 262) and Dave Pastorek (5-11, 210).
The linebacker corps is loaded with experience as seniors Mike Stock, Sean Hartman and Dave White along with junior Ryan Magrann are all returning starters. Hickey leads an experienced group in the defensive backfield that includes classmates Justin Keane, John Cardinale and Joe Lauch along with junior Marco Mendes.
After a lackluster year with its kicking game in 2014, South went out and commandeered a couple of booters in junior Brett Gold and sophomore Andrew Witten, both former soccer players.
The Hawks open the season at defending District 1 champion Pennsbury then come home for five straight games against Bensalem, Neshaminy, Truman, CB East and CB West. None of their home foes made the playoffs but the Skins won the district in 2013, the Bucks beat South last year in a night game at War Memorial and South needed a herculean effort from Alimenti and a pair of 2-point plays to get past the Tigers last year.
Even the Patriots gave the Hawks a run for their money in a 46-40 shootout.
“You want to be good, you have to play the teams that are going to compete against you and make you better,” explained Bedesem.
“Pennsbury is always Pennsbury. They might not win the district every year but they’re always running deep into that district tournament.
“This year is no different. They’re a team that everyone strives to be.”
After starting the season with just nine seniors last year, South returns to the gridiron with 28 12th-graders this year, supplanted by 22 juniors. Bedesem hopes to make some noise with this group that is led by Stackhouse.
“I’ve seen a huge difference in Shaun this season,” said Bedesem. “He’s always had the mental game down but now, you really see the physicality in him.”
“His quarterbacks coach Matt McGovern has really got him coming on strong.”
Hawks fans all over are hoping Stackhouse and company can lead CR South back to postseason contention in 32015.
NOTES: Pleasant surprises in camp included sophomore RB Elias Mayo and freshman TE/DL Nick Gallo (6-3, 200). South plans to play both CB West and CB South next season, even though the SOL National is switching back to its more traditional geographic alignment.